The Camden Cancer Research Center (CCRC) is a brand-new effort with a simple approach: Connect scientists and empower collaborative research to develop the next generation of cancer treatments and grow a critical mass of researchers in South Jersey to join the fight.
In the CCRC, we’ve combined Coriell Institute’s research prowess, Cooper University Health Care’s award-winning doctors and patient-care expertise, and Cooper Medical School of Rowan University’s excellence and influence in medical education to build a state-of-the-art cancer research center in the heart of Camden, New Jersey.
With an initial investment of $30 million over 10 years, the CCRC will leverage existing cancer research in Camden as the foundation to build this work and attract more of the nation’s brightest minds to the region. CCRC scientists are looking beyond our genetic code to understand how lifestyle and environmental changes can influence genetic expression, risks for developing cancer, and response to treatments. The CCRC team has a proven history of impactful research and translating knowledge into new tools and therapies for fighting cancer.
CCRC scientists are experts in cancer epigenetics, or how the turning “on” or “off” of certain genes can affect risk for developing cancer or can be used to treat it. Epigenetic therapies aim to treat cancer by blocking enzymes that control regulation of abnormal cellular identity in cancer.
Members of the CCRC were recently awarded a Specialized Program of Research Excellence (or SPORE) grant from the National Cancer Institute to improve cancer care by developing new drugs that work on one’s epigenetics in combination with traditional therapies.
Breast cancer can be driven by oncogenes, or genes in which mutations are known to cause an increased risk for developing cancer. But there are also epigenetic changes on top of one’s DNA that can cause heightened risk as well. For instance, a gene responsible for tumor suppression might have no mutations, but errors in its expression may affect risk in a similar way. CCRC scientists are working to find more of these epigenetic drivers to improve treatments.
CCRC scientists are studying the basics of blood cell biology, and how new knowledge of blood stem cells and how they reproduce can be used to overcome resistance to existing cancer treatments.
The CCRC team is studying the microbiome, or the bacteria in our gastrointestinal tract, and how it can influence our risk for developing cancer. This is especially important in colorectal cancer, one of the most common forms of cancer in the world and one which is increasingly appearing in the young.
Scientists in the CCRC are studying the behavior and health conditions that can cause increased risk for these cancers, such as the consumption of alcohol or Barrett’s esophagus, a condition found commonly in people diagnosed with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
Cancer is a disease of aging. Cancer risk increases as one ages and the more we know about that aging process, the better prepared we are to predict and treat all forms of cancer. Scientists in the CCRC are developing ways to measure one’s biological age—and thus their risk for developing certain cancers—through epigenetics.
CCRC scientists are also conducting translational research, bringing the latest knowledge about cancer biology into practice. They are searching for new epigenetic drugs to target cancer, improving care by overcoming treatment resistance that can build during traditional chemotherapy regiments. This personalized medicine approach enables doctors to use the best drugs for each individual patient right away.
With these organizations now tackling cancer together, Camden is well positioned to become a destination for cancer research. Through the CCRC, the city’s biggest names in biomedical research, patient care, and medical education have created something greater than the sum of its parts.
And should new enterprises spring from this work, Camden will have the infrastructure to incubate and grow these new companies, making the City Invincible an even greater draw for ambitious young scientists and world-class talent. The launch of the CCRC is only the beginning.
The Camden Cancer Research Center is proud to bring world-class cancer research to Camden and the South Jersey area. If you have any questions about CCRC or would like to learn more about our various initiatives, please contact us and someone from our team will be in touch with you shortly.